Peoria (WEEK) -- Long before Preston Jackson built the statue immortalizing Richard Pryor, the two met in the 1960s. Tuesday, on what would have been Pryor's 80th birthday, Preston says the city the comedic legend grew up inspired his work.
"Richard was definitely Peoria," Jackson said. "And I think I know him on a more darker side of Peoria because the whole city was segregated, definitely the places of entertainment."
He was born in Peoria in 1940, and his grandmother raised him in a brothel. He eventually forged a path to fame and success, while battling substance abuse at various points in his life.
Pryor was awarded the first Mark Twain prize for humor by the Kennedy Center in 1998. In 2004, Comedy Central named him the top stand-up comedian of all time.
Pryor died December 10, 2005 after suffering a heart attack.